Recently our long-time friends Larry Scott and Peggy Hews of Riverside Emus in Newbury VT, and Peter and Ann Breen of Neshobe Farms in Brandon VT closed their company Vermont Prime Emu also known as VPEP, which sold Emu Oil from their online site at VTEMU.com. Vermont Prime Emu had a wide customer base, many of whom came to know them at their sales booth in the Vermont Building during the annual Eastern States Exposition in Springfield MA.
The announcement on their website states:
Vermont Prime Emu Producers Closed as of August 1, 2022
We are announcing the closure of our business, VPEP, as of August 1, 2022. It was a difficult decision to make, but retirement is on our horizon. You, our customers, have supported us for 23 years, and we are grateful for your loyalty, friendships forged and continued business. You have helped us navigate our product direction and inspired us through your personal stories.
We had hoped to sell the business, but that has not come to fruition, and for that, we are truly disappointed and sorry. We wish you all good health and thank you all who helped make VPEP a success.
We were very sad to see this, but it reflects current trends in the Emu Industry. We first met the VPEP members in the late 1990s when we were all part of the American Emu Association and its offshoot, the New England Emu Chapter. At that time, we were all “young” Emu Farmers learning together how to raise these fascinating birds. We swapped stock to enrich our flocks and traded knowledge. We weren’t alone at that time. There were over 20 farming members in our New England chapter, and we all worked together to rise above the many challenges. The first was finding the needed resources – specific feeds for emu, knowledgeable veterinarians, processing facilities willing to harvest the birds under USDA approval, and facilities to refine the oil. The second was creating a market for our products – emu meat and oil.
We had to educate people on how emu oil and meat could enhance the quality of their lives, and to do this, many of us hit the pavement - marketing at farmers’ markets, festivals, and fairs. We talked to people one-on-one and sold our Pure Emu Oil and Emu Oil-based products for pain relief and skin and hair care made by other companies. VPEP, like Songline, then went on the create our own formulas because we didn’t like the chemical additives being used by companies like Blu-Emu.
As the “world-wide-web” evolved, some of us threw ourselves into it, and others came kicking and screaming – but notably, the farms that expanded their market online were the farms that survived.
Over the years, we have seen farmers throughout the United States come and go, usually based on not understanding the full challenges they would face. However, recently, we are seeing many successful farmers and marketers leaving the industry because we are just … aging out. Those who started in the 1990s are now in their 60s, 70s, and 80s and are not being replaced by young farmers.
It is a sad statement about the US Emu industry. Many people put their time and energy into creating a support system for farming and, even more important, creating a large base of knowledgeable consumers who consider Emu Oil products to be a valuable component of healthy living. If the US industry dies off, consumers will have to rely on Emu Oil from unknown International Sources and of unknown quality.
In the meantime – Songline Enterprises is still here, and we will be happy to serve your Emu Oil needs with AEA Certified Emu Oil from birds grown on small US farms for years to come. If you were a customer of VPEP looking for a new supplier, you can request a catalog and sign up for email updates here.